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AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT OPENS IN ETHIOPIA

July 03, 2017 | Uhuruspirit

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African leaders started to gather in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Sunday for the 29th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union.

The two-day summit opens today under the theme, “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investment in the Youth.”

It would examine cross-cutting issues affecting African economies and the opportunities and options that could be exploited for continental transformation.

Significant among the issues likely to be discussed at the meeting include continental trade, AU reforms, peace and security, funding for the AU, and youth empowerment.

The AU is seeking to free itself from the financial guardianship of the Chinese and Western donors.

According to the Ivorian president Alassane Ouattara, "We cannot tell non-African donors, we are autonomous and tell them at the same time, give us your money.”

At the initiative of Guinean Alpha Condé, who is the African Union's president this year, and Rwandan Paul Kagame, who is leading the AU reform committee, African heads of state want to transform the AU into a self-reliant continental body by 2018.

They no longer want to live what the Togolese Foreign Minister, Robert Dussey, says feels like a humiliation: "The current problem is that we have funding that, if you will allow me, shames us Africans. More than 50% of our funding comes from non-African donors. It is not normal when one wants to take charge of one's own destiny, to be financed by the others. As a result, decisions are often influenced by donors, by those who fund us," he told the RFI.

So to get out of this financial dependence, African heads of state have found a trick. A year ago, in July 2016 in Kigali, they created a new tax of 0.2% on all non-African products that are imported into the African continent. This measure is expected to finance more than 80% of the African Union's activities.

But they are yet to achieve 100% consensus among African countries. Countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and Tunisia, all of which have many trading partners outside the continent, have not yet fully bought into the arrangement.

However, the proponents of this tax on imports have a good argument: in fact, it already exists in the 15 countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for the benefit of the western organization -africaine. And since Saturday, July 1, a new ordinance has passed in Abidjan: now Côte d'Ivoire levies the new tax of 0.2% for the benefit of the African Union.



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